EVIDENCE FROM MASS GRAVES
Australian archeologist Richard Wright gave evidence at the trial of Ratko Mladic. Wright was in charge of the OTP’s team that located and exhumed the mass graves in Srebrenica and Prijedor
The prosecution continues calling evidence at the trial of former VRS Main Staff commander Ratko Mladic. Australian archeologist Richard Wright was in charge of locating and exhuming the mass graves in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of the OTP`s effort to investigate war crimes.
Seven expert reports written by Wright were admitted into evidence. Four of them pertain to Srebrenica and the remaining three reports are about Prijedor. The transcript of Wright’s testimony at the trial of Radislav Krstic was also admitted into evidence. Krstic was sentenced to 35 years for aiding and abetting the genocide in Srebrenica.
Wright was in charge of the mass grave exhumations until 2000. His estimate at the time was that there were 3,477 bodies buried in twenty-odd mass graves that had been discovered until that time. In his evidence at the Mladic trial, Professor Wright said that the data obtained in the exhumations and in the analysis of the remains of victims showed that his estimate erred on the side of the caution by about 10 percent.
Mladic’s lawyer Miodrag Stojanovic argued in the cross-examination that at the Karadzic trial the witness had stated he couldn’t entirely rule out the possibility that the bodies from Srebrenica mass graves had been buried there after a clean-up operation. Wright confirmed this, but said nevertheless that all the bodies recovered from the mass graves wore civilian clothing. This led Wright to conclude that they were civilians.
If the people whose bodies were found in the mass graves had been collected and buried during the terrain clean up, their bodies would have been in various stages of decomposition, Wright noted, adding that there was no insect activity on the bodies of exhumed persons. This led him to assume that the victims from the mass graves didn’t die on the battlefield. Also, as the prosecutor stressed, many of the victims had been blindfolded and had their hands tied.
After Wright completed his evidence, the prosecution called Susan Maljaars, a Dutch fabrics expert. She testifies about the fabric used to tie the hands and blindfold the executed prisoners. Maljaars continues the testimony tomorrow.